An Unintended Lesson About Gambling

“To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs.” Douglas Powers


Meditations in Motion
Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Every family has its stories to tell. Our family is no different. We have some stories we tell over and over, sometimes forgetting whom we have shared them with. I am sure we have bored our friends more than once with the following story, but here is one we tell whenever we have the opportunity.

Our first house was in a small town about 15 minutes away from our current one. We lived down the street from a dentist’s office, a gift shop, and a newsstand.

We sometimes went to the newsstand to purchase magazines, a newspaper, or even a candy bar. My middle son Rob, probably four or five years old at the time, was fascinated with the lottery tickets they sold there.

We explained how lottery tickets worked and how remote the chances of winning were, but he persisted in his desire to purchase one. Finally, in desperation and hoping to teach him a valuable lesson about gambling, the worth of money, and some basic probability, I told him we could buy a lottery ticket if we used his money.

Meditations in Motion

Now, his money was valuable to him. Even at his young age, he understood the concept of saving for something he wanted. His birthday money, allowance, and the money he received from his grandparents for “doing chores” all went into his piggy bank, usually with a goal in mind.

It took him all of three seconds to agree to spend his own money on a lottery ticket. We went to his piggy bank and withdrew $2.00.

We carried the money to the newsstand, where he gave it to me to buy a ticket, then we walked back to our house and used a dime to scratch off the numbers. He had won a free ticket.

Upon learning the result, he insisted we immediately go back to the newsstand and redeem his winning ticket for his free ticket. Back to the newsstand we went for his free ticket, then back home again to scratch it off.

He won $2.00 with his free ticket.

That didn’t work out well,” I thought. He got his money back. Not the lesson I wanted to teach him.

Meditations in MotionRob asked if we could use the $2.00 he won to buy another ticket. I agreed, hoping he would lose his money so I could still salvage the evils of gambling lesson.

We walked back to the newsstand and exchanged his winning ticket for yet another lottery ticket. I was sure his luck would run out. The next ticket he bought was a $20.00 winner.

All in all, we shuttled back and forth to the newsstand at least three or four more times and each ticket he got was a winner.

I finally called a halt to the process after 45 minutes, when Rob had pocketed around $35.00, enough to buy the big Lego kit he had been saving for and to dash my hopes for teaching him the desired lesson.

Now, this story is not necessarily a meaningful one. Rob is not addicted to gambling, nor does he buy lottery tickets to finance his current purchases. The lesson I hoped to teach him was unnecessary.

I suppose you could say that it is a satisfying story, however. At least for Rob.


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  1. I had a really good laugh with this one and so glad you shared this family story. my lottery ticket buying husband will love it (but I certainly don’t want to encourage him either) ! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ve had our own episode with gambling. I bought one lotto ticket for the family when it was really high. We don’t normally buy these but thought it would be fun. We have 10 yo twins and when they got up the next morning, they raced to check our winnings in Google. One girl burst into tears. As I calmed her down she shouted, “But dad. I prayed about it!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It IS a great story. It reminds me that most of my life lessons with the kids have come about sideways. The ones I set up with a big intention often fall flat. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heck, you and Bill should have bought your own tickets at that lotto terminal! I have a lottery ticket story as well. My boss before my current boss was named Ed. He was the most pleasant, mild-mannered litigation attorney you’d ever know. Under pressure he was a peach – just calm and collect (so unlike my current boss who is a Type A personality and very intense). The talk radio show my mom listened to was advertising a trip to a ski resort up in northern Michigan if you submitted a postcard saying why your boss should be “Boss of the Year” … I sent in a postcard and said what I wrote above … not the usual characteristics of a trial attorney. He won the contest and a weekend for two in this beautiful resort. He was ecstatic – they had four kids (triplets in their teens, and a boy one year older) so rarely did any vacation, save for a trip to Cedar Point amusement park (all their kids were big into sports). The following year, there was another trip, same station, for a trip for two to a ski resort in Vale, CO. You could enter as much as you want. I sent in two postcards and I don’t know if I was the only entries but Ed won first prize and second prize (a pair of skis). Again, very ecstatic and he/wife had a great time. All expenses paid and they didnt have to do a single thing related to WJR.
    So, my other (much younger) boss said “what are you going to win for me?” I just smiled, but a few months later, that boss took a job at a securities firm (he also had a securities degree besides his law degree). On a lark, I went downstairs and got a weekly lottery ticket to tuck into his going-away card. Bought one for myself at the same time. Saturday night’s numbers were picked – Howard won $100.00 and I won nothing. So, all the attorneys decided I should buy lottery tickets for their existing “pool” – they actually wrote up a contract for me (typical attorneys) and I was to be given a percentage for my “golden picking abilities” … ha ha. I was all in for that and we had lots of fun with it. I’d go down twice/week (Wednesdays and Saturdays were our classic Lotto) and get the tickets (a ot of them) … this went on all Summer and I did not even pick a four-number winner. We disbanded … so much for being lucky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great stories, Linda! Your boss must have been quite appreciative. You won 2 vacations and a pair of skis for him. Too bad you didn’t save the $100 ticket for yourself! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes he was appreciative -Ed was a great guy and after we had the merger in 2000, even though Ed was an equity partner with the Firm for many years, the acquiring firm (Williams Mullen based in Richmond, VA) insisted on raising all attorney rates sky high. Our longstanding clients would not tolerate that and Ed lost his biggest piece of business, a client he had had since he was first in practice (Auto Owners Insurance Company) … then the powers that be deemed Ed not very profiitable and gave him his walking papers, a year to find a job and then leave. He took the entire year, went into a kind of depression where he came in every day and went into his office and closed the door and only came out to go to lunch, sat and read newspapers and was on his computer. Eventually, he took a job with the City of Detroit Law Department as he could not go to another Firm as he had lost his biggest client and they went elsewhere. I asked to work for my current boss as he went through secretaries like water and I was working for Ed and the H.R. Manager so I had to help each temporary secretary get acclimated to the job (Robb’s practice was different and he was not a member of the Firm, but had of counsel status). So Ed left … I was upset that happened as I could have seen us working together for the rest of our years until retirement. Robb and I left because they made him become a member and wanted to raise his rates $150.00 or more per hour, effective 02/01/2003 … we left on 01/31/2003 before that happened and he formed his own firm. Took all 62 clients with us. It was the luck of the draw which lottery ticket I kept and which one I gave to Howard. Howard at least took me to lunch to say thanks. I was quite the novelty at our Firm … my few minutes of fame.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s so sad for Ed! I’m glad at least he got another job eventually. Being a lawyer sounds like a cutthroat business! Glad to read that you at least got a lunch out of the lottery ticket deal! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I felt very badly for Ed and he never told me the story himself about them asking him to leave. My current boss was friendly with the main named partner and he “blabbed” the story to Robb. Then Robb told me. When Ed got the job with the City of Detroit Law Department, he just said he was making a career move. It was really funny with that lottery ticket – Howard felt badly and my dud ticket, but this was his way of feeling okay about it. 🙂 He went to the new job, then called about six months later and said his secretary quit and asked if I would come to work for him. That was a few years before the merger though and I really liked working for Ed, so would not have left. This merger/acquisition was not a good thing for us … they ended up terminating the entire relationship and shuttering the doors … they gave everyone 2 weeks’ notice and closed up for good on 12/31/04. Robb and I were already gone almost two years, but it still shook us to the core to hear what happened to our co-workers.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry but I had a little giggle at this. Maybe it would have been better to turn it into a story of luck, your boy was lucky that day. I used to work in a bingo hall when I was young, it was a job, not well paid, but all I could get at the time. It taught me that gambling does not pay at all. (It also gave me a love of video games which at the time could only be played at arcades.) Gambling goes a lot further than the purchase of a lottery ticket, but I guess you already know that. Great story though. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • He WAS lucky. He still is. He must have inherited his grandmother’s luck. She was lucky too! 🙂 I am glad he didn’t continue to gamble.


  6. Wow, how crazy is that! Amazing in your quest to teach Rob a lesson, that he kept winning something. This story made me want to keep reading and smiling all the way through. Thanks for sharing how funny life (and the Lord) is sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally had to laugh reading this, but how lucky was he?? It would have only ever happened at that moment as you were trying to teach a lesson. I’m sorry it didn’t work but expect he was chuffed with his LEGO set, what a story to tell! Sim xx #PoCoLo

    Liked by 1 person

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